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'«•Aj loved Johnny Cash but tliey wouldn't be listening to him for a few months after they got home, such was the overload. This look is massive in Germany with lots of dedicated 50's shows and conventions taking place, there were stalls selling gentleman's pomade (a sort of hair grease), R'n'E memorabilia and all other varieties of 50's merchandise.

As Friday came to an end, several of the big name artists held seminars for those not working the show but wanting to further their careers and techniques. For the rest of us, it was time to head to the bars and restaurants to grab a drink and a meal and reflect on what was a great start to the weekend.

Saturday and the crowd was much bigger than the previous day, this had the effect of increasing the temperature inside and it was nice to head outside every now and then to get some fresh air as the sun

~ . I Mi shone for what apparently was the first time in montlis. Although the heat was quite intense inside, many folk chose to keep their coats and jackets on. This made my job pretty hard trying to spot tattoos. Occasionally I would spy a colour tattoo poking out of a work shirt or some black and grey masterpiece tempting me from beneath a cardigan, worn back to front of course, (ala fifties style!}.

I did fare much better when it came to the judging. Myself and one of the other photographers (thanks Mick!) from the German tattoo magazine; Tattoowier, cleared some space stage right and we herded the contestants over, after they had been judged, for photographic purposes.

This worked out perfectly and I must say it was really refresliing to see new work from other countries and I breathed a sigh of relief at actually getting some tattoo photos. S)

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As well as the long list of international rtists attending, there were many more ical tattooists I had not previously heard f so it was good to see work from many f these guys 'up close and personal' so 3 speak. On the aturday there M&X 'FlOII

ras just two rrrpat wnrl ategories in the yiedl WUU

ompetitions, was hard at

Hack & Grey and all WeekeilC

demand for uite easily but Black am the categories were open to interpretation as some B&G pieces had a small amount of colour in the tattoos and the Asian meant anything from Japanese to all other styles of colour work, but that was fine and the competition ran very smoothly and efficiently. Walking about the venue, I started to

I list of international ^ , see some great tattoos taking shape. Nick

■re were many more Baxter had just finished and superb worm not previously heard * type creature {The Labyrinth?) on a girl's ee work from many "t • shoulder, Thomas Kynst was working on ge and personal' so * a large, across the shouldei piece of black ™ and grey work.

Max 'From Hell' had some Bezwashali great work on show and was hard at work tattooing rendition of all weekend; such was the acolourful demand for his own style of

Black and Grey work. area, done m such a way that the tattoo looked like it was under the girl's flesh. Dan Henk tattooed some wonderful portraits of a chap's pet ducks, done in only a way that Dan can, with blood and worms coming from the animals. Speaking to Dan after the tattoo he said, "It came out great, but there wasn't enouah blood, there should have been more blood!" Ah, ti Dan Henk style!

A chap by the name of Randy from studio called Heaven of Colours in At was producing some amazing colour tattoos. I had seen quite a few tattoo: by him earlier whilst on stage during judging and I was told that he and Be from Hungary are good friends and yi could definitely see the Boris influent in his work. Max 'From Hell' had som great work on show and was hard at work tattooing all weekend; such wa the demand for his own style of Blacl and Grey work.

Talking of styles, there was one booth that had a big crowd around it weekend. That was the booth of Sim( And Volko from Buena Vista Tattoo. 1 guys have been taking the tattoo woi by storm over the past year or so witl their verv distinctive cor traits blende

Exploding Music Bar Tattoo

cheers that went up when he appeared, he was already well known in Germany, The music started and off he went; into a stage act of yep, you guessed it. Fifties covers... This was my queue to hit the bar, but I have to say I hung around for a couple of numbers and his voice was pretty amazing as was his Johnny Cash tribute, which was very impressive. 1 did like his Elvis meets Motorhead rendition of Ace of Spades too.

That night, the artists were treated to a party laid on by Andy and his team. A large coach took all the attending artists to a barn, apparently in the middle of nowhere that was decked out with sand, surfboards, hoola girls and flower garlands, a proper luau by all accounts, I sadly missed out on what was a superb night with the last coach coming home at six in the morning.

On Sunday there were a few sore heads and some very delicate tattooists heading over from the hotel not three hundred yards from the venue. As the doors opened for the day, a few booths were unoccupied as I flunk a few of the harder partygoers had a bit of a lie in. It might be a good idea too put the party on the Sunday night after the show?

Again the rooms all filled up pretty quickly and those artists whose eyes had re-focused started the day's proceedings. Again the work heading up on stage for the competitions was immense with all genres of tattooing on show,

Sunday seemed a little quieter compared to the UK shows, where it is usually the busier day but it was never quiet and ninety nine percent of tattooists were working and those that weren't had decided not to by choice I think.

Just prior to the winding up of the show we were treated to a superb display of Dancing through the ages by a couple. Starting with a Charleston demonstration, then they dashed off behind a screen to reappear in WWIf uniforms to do the jive, then off again to come back and dance some Rock and Roll. This was really good and considering both were well into their fifties, they put on a superb act and the audience loved it.

As the weekend drew to its final

I conclus J that we V to both

Again the rooms all filled up pretty quickly and those artists whose eyes had re-focused started the day's proceedings.

conclusion, Andy handed out the awards that were hand made, painted surf boards to both artists and tattooees and the crowds started to wander off and the Kaiser Friedrich Hall began to empty.

The only fly in the ointment for me over the weekend was the rudeness and bullishness of one Tattoo Scout/ Sprit magazine. When I mentioned their behaviour to others, they did not seem surprised, confirming this fitted with their understanding of the magazine's ethos. They decided to start filming artists in the one and only corridor to one of the tattoo rooms and when we and others decided to try and get to this room we were shouted at and told to leave the area. This denied access to many who wanted to get into the room housing the other artists. Not a nice way of treating their potential customers I feel. It was small and minor transgression, though but one I feel needed mentioning all the same.

I have driven through Geimany on many occasions but never had the chance to stop but I am so glad I came over for the first Ink Explosion. It was a superb weekend. Chatting after the show with some of the artists, not one had a negative thing to say about the show and many were really looking forward to and some having already booked tattoos for next year.

Andy and his team did a superb job of keeping an inciedible line up of artists happy (with a good selection of artists only seminars available) and making sure that the crowds enjoyed themselves for the whole weekend.

Considering the cheap flights and the superb quality and price of the local hotels, why not put the Ink Explosion on your convention list for next year?

I would like to thank Andy and Ills team for all their help and over the weekend, u*

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